Saturday, March 05, 2011

Skipping to the End

I’m reading a book that is extremely difficult to get through, not because it’s boring, but because the main character endures such horrific things. Knowing it’s a true story makes it even harder. The friend that loaned it to me warned me that she almost put it down several times but forced herself to stick it out. In the end, she said, seeing this man healed and transformed was worth it. Since the story hit much closer to home for my friend, she became my inspiration to give it a shot. Then the brutality got too entense and I set the book aside.

Last week at a church get together, someone mentioned this same book. “I wept over his conversion.”

Suddenly I wanted to give the book another shot. If the ending was that powerful, maybe all the prison camp violence was worth it. I’d survived the frightening scenes where he and his fellow airmen were lost at sea, surrounded by hungry sharks. But again, it got to be too much and I announced to my family, “That’s it, I’ve had enough. Tomorrow, I’m skipping to the powerful, redemptive ending.”

This morning, however, I couldn’t do it. Somehow I knew that the ending would be less amazing without seeing all that this man lived through first. I had to skim some chapters but I at least read enough to get an idea of what happened. When I’d had enough I took a break. I’m thinking of it as an exercise in endurance. Sure, there are times when it is perfectly acceptable (and also wise) to fast forward a disturbing movie scene or pass on reading a book that is too upsetting. This time, like my friend, I sense that I need to read on.

Later, I thought of the many times when I wished I could skip past my current life chapter to the redeptive ending that I’d been assured was coming. Obviously I couldn’t. In the end, the rewards were greater because of all the scenes that I had to look back on when all seemed lost. If God had allowed me to skip those parts, He would also have allowed me to miss the depth of all He had done.

What are going through now that you would like to skip over? Ask God to give you the endurance and strength to hold on, knowing that a redemptive ending is coming.

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